Mind and language
Innateness and learningSome of the major issues in the philosophy of language that deal with the mind are paralleled by modern psycholinguistics. Some important questions: how much of language is innate? Is language acquisition a special faculty in the mind? What's the connection between thought and language?
There are three general perspectives on the issue of language learning:
Language and thoughtAnother important question relating to language and the mind is, to what extent does language influence thought (and vice-versa)? There have been a number of different perspectives on this issue, ranging across a number of suggestions.
For example, linguists Sapir and Whorf suggested that language limited the extent to which members of a linguistic community can think about certain subjects (a hypothesis paralleled in George Orwell's novel "1984"). To a lesser extent, issues in the philosophy of rhetoric (including the notion of framing of debate) suggest the influence of language upon thought.
There is also some controversy about the very meaning of a "thought". Gottlob Frege believed that thought occupied a "third realm", that was neither psychological nor a part of the universe, and believed that his Begriffsschrift calculus was a theory of thought. By contrast, Wittgenstein - in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus - considered thought to be a "significant proposition".
Social interaction and languageMetasemantics is a term of art used to describe all those fields that examine the social conditions that give rise to meanings and languages. Etymology (the study of the origins of words) and Stylistics (philosophical argumentation over what makes "good grammar", relative to a particular language) are two examples of metasemantic fields.
One of the major fields of sociology, symbolic interactionism, is based on the insight that human social organization is based almost entirely on the use of meanings. In consequence, any explanation of a social structure (like an institution) would need to account for the shared meanings which create and sustain the structure.
Rhetoric is the study of the particular words that people use in order to achieve the proper emotional and rational effect in the listener, be it to persuade, provoke, endear, teach, etc. Some relevant applications of the field include: